|"If you're going to kill someone, do it simply."|
|Time: 99 mins.|
Rating: Not Rated
Won Academy Award for Best Actress. Nominations for Best Score and Best Picture.
Being a big fan of Hitchcock, I've seen most of his more popular films. SUSPICION isn't one of my all-time favorites; however, I'll watch it if there happens to be nothing else on TV. It's certainly Hitch's most straightforward romances, which I guess is why it lacks his typical flair. The story tries to be suspenseful, but ultimately it just doesn't really go anywhere. Perhaps because the two lead characters' love each other for all the wrong reasons. Their relationship is based on lies, deceit, guilt and betrayal. Certainly topics often covered by Hitchcock, but usually as part of a greater plot. As used here, their actions just seems hackneyed and over-played. Fontaine's character is such a mousy loser it's hard to imagine someone of Grant's obvious charms falling in love with her. Of course, that's what Hitch wants us to think. Without that doubt, there's no story. For her part, Fontaine doesn't believe it either, yet is horrified with the thought that her husband is not only a deadbeat, but potential murderer. Her dilemma is that she's so deperately in love with him she'd rather die than live without him.
What's so scary about this film is that Fontaine won an Oscar for this role. Not that she's a bad actress. It's just that the plot is so silly. She plays Lina, an intelligent, young woman with one foot in spinsterhood. Apparently, she's somewhat homely and too quiet for most men. I could only dream to be as physically unattractive as her. I love how classic films try to parlay women who aren't "glamorous" as plain. I guess they figure the audience will relate to strong woman characters better if they're not the belle of the ball, portraying someone who's suffered by being unpopular with the gents. Whatever. In any case, Johnny (Grant), a very eligible and popular playboy, finds this diamond in the rough and decides that she's the woman for him. It's never made clear whether he scoped her out ahead of time or they met by chance. This, of course, adds to the "suspicion" about his character's motivations. It's pretty obvious from the get-go that he's a ruthless charmer, you're just never sure how far he'll go to accomplish his goals.
Appalled that her parents think she's going to be left on the marital shelf, Lina elopes with Johnny, who takes her on the whirlwind honeymoon of her dreams. Unfortunately, Lina's reality soon becomes a nightmare when she discovers that Johnny married her for her money. It's not that he doesn't love her, he just wasn't planning on having to actually earn a living himself...ever. This causes her to distrust him at every turn, never knowing whether he's being truthful or not. Of course, he's not exactly a subtle guy, so she doesn't have to dig very hard to discover what he's up to. After she finds out he's committed a crime, she suspects him of being more evil than she imagined, but she still can't stop loving him. Even when she believes he's turning his malicious plans in her direction.
Grant is wonderful as the charming and conniving Johnny. Even though you know every word out of his mouth is a lie, you can't help but like him. Just because he's a inveterate liar doesn't mean he's incapable of true love. He plays the humor which there's a great deal of and the dark side of this unconscienable rogue smashingly. As I remarked earlier, Fontaine won the Best Actress award for this performance and, for the time, it was probably justly deserved. Lina is spirited, intelligent and uncompromising in her love for Johnny. It's just such a weak role, the woman desperate in love, afraid for her life, that I couldn't quite wholeheartedly jump on her bandwagon. Of course, if I were in her shoes, I wouldn't let Grant go either. While the plot is thin, it does have some truly dark and suspenseful moments. I know the score was nominated for an Oscar, but I found it intrusive and way over the top at key points, like the audience can't quite figure out for themselves which moments are dangerous.
All in all, not a bad effort by those involved, but Hitchcock and Grant have done better. If you want a suspenseful, passionate love story watch NOTORIOUS. Otherwise, SUSPICION isn't a bad way to pass the time, especially if you're a lover of Mr. Grant. He's at full strength here ladies, so look out.